An Ohio State Mansfield student is conducting a research project that may have broad implications across Ohio for its number one industry – farming.
Freshman Jeff Hensal is the first from Ohio State Mansfield to receive a Research Scholar Award of $1,000 from the Ohio State University Undergraduate Research Office. His proposal looks at historical precipitation data to identify long-term trends in precipitation amounts, moisture regime and water availability in Ohio. Results from this study will help managers better prepare for extreme weather events and support farmers in their planning for irrigation and water usage.
Drawing from precipitation data from NOAA National Climatic Data Center going back to the 1970s from 205 weather stations in all 88 Ohio counties, Hensal and research mentor and professor Ozeas Costa hope to gain knowledge about the trends and patterns of climate change to be able to make accurate predictions about the weather, especially extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. They also hope to discover some of the factors that impact this change to help better predict future climate variability.
The Earth’s climate is intrinsic to everything important to society – the production of food and energy, human and ecosystem health, the functioning and characteristics of the hydrologic cycle, and much more, Hensal explained in his proposal.
“Natural and human-induced changes in the Earth’s climate thus have widespread implications for society,” he said. “We are particularly interested in the role of climatic changes on the hydrological cycle, since water availability is crucial to agriculture, one of the major drivers of Ohio’s economy.”
Tracking historical information means that researchers can determine what could be expected from the future, both in terms of intensity and frequency of rains, which will help farmers determine when to plant, and how much fertilizer and pesticides to use, according to Costa.
The Engineering major is expected to prepare a three-month progress report and to create an online research portfolio and update it each semester until he graduates.
Hensal’s work will be displayed at the Mansfield Undergraduate Research Forum April 20-23 and he will be available from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. April 23 to answer questions about the project.
About 300 scholarships will be awarded through the program this year. Students can conduct research or pursue a creative activity with a faculty member’s supervision in any discipline, on any campus of The Ohio State University.